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Bill would end military's use of live animals for medical training

A bipartisan group of lawmakers on Thursday reintroduced a bill that calls for ultimately ending the military's use of live animals in combat medical training courses in the next five years.

The Battlefield Excellence through Superior Training (BEST) Practices Act would require the Defense Department to phase out the use of live animals in medical training -- a practice that has been widely eliminated from similar civilian programs.

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The legislation -- sponsored by Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenHillicon Valley: Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says | Democrats seek answers on impact of Russian hack on DOJ, courts | Airbnb offers Biden administration help with vaccine distribution Intelligence agency gathers US smartphone location data without warrants, memo says Senate panel unanimously advances Yellen nomination for Treasury MORE (D-Ore.) in the upper chamber and Reps. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) and Michael FitzpatrickMichael (Mike) G. FitzpatrickFormer Pennsylvania Rep. Fitzpatrick dead at 56 Pelosi: Mexico should not worry about Trump House lawmakers ask for answers on cooked ISIS intel allegations MORE (R-Pa.) in the House -- was referred to the House Armed Services personnel subcommittee in the 113th Congress but didn’t receive a vote.

“It's clear that using live pigs and goats in this kind of training isn't necessary, and 98 percent of civilian trauma programs agree,” Johnson said in a statement.

"BEST is the best of all possible worlds -- it improves training, eliminates animal suffering, modernizes medical training and saves taxpayers money,” he added. 

The U.S. military uses more than 8,500 animals every year in its combat trauma training courses, according to the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine.

Lawmakers contend that operating on an anesthetized or unconscious goat or pig doesn't properly prepare medical professionals for treating human traumas. They say studies show that simulators are better at training doctors for real-world situations.

“Killing live animals is unnecessary and counterproductive when better methods of training are already being used,” said Wyden.

“This bill makes sure our military medics are trained using the newest -- and best -- technology on the market so they know exactly what to do when it counts,” he added.